I understand that it was made in jest- that I could not be considered Mindanaoan or even Filipino because I left the Philippines.
The thing is I still want to answer those statements, because I got a lot of flak even before I left. Why would you leave? Don’t you love the Philippines? You’re forsaking the country. You’re a traitor.
Hmm, I wonder- the heroes we have hailed before us also left the motherland. I wouldn’t equate myself to being a hero but you get the drift.
My being Canadian is an added layer to my identity- it does not eliminate my birth, my childhood, my life experiences in this country I was born and raised in. If anything, it has taught me to love the Philippines more despite all the prejudice I get for being Filipino. We are the underdogs of the world, and I have never felt more of an underdog than when I was a fish out of water, but I also never felt so much in love with my motherland too.
There are so many downsides to being born brown and living in a white world- an interracial relationship that’s deemed doomed from the start, an elusive career path borne out of your ethnicity, insecurities, alienation, depression. Let’s not even go there.